BHS Insight

Is Social Media Too Much of a Distraction?

Margo Silliman and Stephanie Stiles

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PRO

Social media takes a lot of criticism. I hear teachers spend more time complaining about how our generation is on our phones too much than the actual amount of time we spend on our phones in class.

Not to mention how our school WiFi blocks Facebook and Snapchat, which actually prevents us from doing work sometimes. Either we’re assigned projects on that say something like, “create social media accounts for two revolutionaries on the internet,” or we have accounts for school clubs and organizations, or, being the arts and entertainment editor for the school paper, I am entitled to look at a celebrity’s posts—all of which is made more difficult when we can’t access certain kinds of media.

This phone presence in schoolwork ties into something that social media has opened up: it has made certain projects more accessible. It has allowed people to start campaigns like the Me Too movement or the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. High schoolers can become famous or start a business thanks to their Instagram recognition. Celebrities can promote the philanthropic activities they do.

I won’t tell you I agree with everything that comes from social media these days. For instance, I’ve noticed texting-while-driving is out, only to be replaced with people looking at Instagram stories and scrolling through their feed. What’s ridiculous about this is that looking at Instagram stories is the most unnecessary thing you could be doing—it’s not even as productive as a text!—while doing something that is equally likely to put you in a dangerous situation.

I look at social media like it’s a new responsibility for this day and age—something for us, as the consumers, to take on mindfully to utilize its benefits, but also to know when to stop. Facebook may have allowed the spread of fake news, but I think that whenever I read something and must make a decision about it (like, I don’t know, our next president), I need to take it upon myself to confirm what it says.

Additionally, there are so many connections social media has allowed us to make and keep. That person you met at camp, that guy you talked to a lot in physics, that cousin you see once a decade, and that ex, are all people you might never talk to again.

Social media is a way for us to just share our lives with them on a less intimate platform, so that when there’s someone you wouldn’t directly call, you can still see them. I get to see what’s happening in others’ lives and share what’s happening in mine.

Erase all the selfies and the 50 superficial comments girls make on them saying “so gorg!” See the traveling, new jobs and getting into schools. See how this person just won a soccer championship, and how this one just joined a band.

We don’t always have to miss our summer friends (for those Cape Codders who do fraternize with non-yearrounders), thanks to the thousands of snapchats we send everyday and the funny moments we put on our stories.

If this didn’t convince you about the potential of social media in its purest form, go watch the new Facebook ads. My favorite line, which I’ll admit makes me teary, is, “From now on, Facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy, so we can all get back to what made facebook good in the first place: friends.”

 

CON

Brace yourselves. I’m about to shock everyone living in 21st century America: I, a 17- year-old girl with an iPhone, don’t have social media. Even under incredible pressure, I have never broken. This determination is partly out of a refusal to conform, but mostly because I can’t stand social media and I think everyone could benefit from less of it.

Now, I’m not a complete hater of things like Instagram and Snapchat. They are great platforms to stay connected with distant friends or family and figure out what other people are doing with their lives. Many use social media to promote their businesses, which is great! My biggest praise of social media is its ability to foster social movements, such as the MeToo movement.

However, I highly doubt that the majority of teenagers are involved in any charity or social movement while they are staring at their phones for hours.

For the most part, social media is a mindless activity which teenagers, and some adults, drown themselves in. I’m not going to throw science at anyone because as we’ve seen with drugs, alcohol, juuls, and climate change, rarely does science change anyone’s minds. However social media is an addiction that causes many people to make terrible decisions.

I’ve been in multiple cars with students who are snapchatting while driving or scrolling through Instagram. Why can’t those wait? “It’s a red light.” “I’m not driving that fast.” Who cares about your driving circumstances—the fact is you aren’t paying attention to the road!

Truth is, teenagers can’t help it. They hear that ding, or buzz, and they lurch at their phones with a wild desire. What bothers me the most about social media is that teenagers lose social skills. I hate when I’m talking to a person face-to-face and they are determined to ignore me with their head down, absorbed in whatever the new trend is. It’s so awkward and uncomfortable to be around these people, which today is basically everyone. On the other hand, these people feel uncomfortable not looking at their phones in order to have quality conversations. We are just caught in this endless cycle of discomfort stemming from social media.

Then there is the issue of Facebook and good old Mark Zuckerberg. If social media has grown to control our lives enough that it can actually influence elections, we have to do something. Social media is convenient and it is a lot easier to just click on random news stories that pop up on your feed than to actually look at the news, but we can’t let that happen. The minute we as a country stop caring about what is actually happening in the world we end up with Trump.

I don’t know if it’s a human race thing, but we have a keen ability for self-destruction. Students post themselves doing stupid things on social media which could cause their suspension from school or sports or even denial from colleges. Bullying has shifted to these platforms which is especially horrible because social media gives bullies masks to wear and safe anonymity to thrive.

Everyone should limit their social media use. People don’t have to be as drastic as I am, but they should at least try to not make it an addiction. Be in control of your own mind; don’t let Snapchat streaks be what determines your life. There is so much that you’re missing while looking at your screen.

 

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Is Social Media Too Much of a Distraction?